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Audit and fix it

Friday, August 04, 2017

CM Devendra Fadnavis recently announced the government would develop a digital database, and that it would be made compulsory for buildings older than 30 years to get structural audit done at regular intervals. Suraj Uchil explains its significance

Buying a house in a city like Mumbai is everyone's dream. Be it a taxi driver working 16 hours to save up for that small 1 room kitchen or the finance consultant who is about to get married and wants to finally settle down and look for a house which makes his travel to work a bit more easy or the businessman who always wanted to own a house since he started his business. almost everyone dreams of buying the best house within their budget. But the buck doesn't stop with just buying the house. Buying is just the beginning. Taking care of it and maintaining it and raising it like our own child is the second and the crucial part which people tend to forget.

Vishal Thakkar, a Marketing Professional from Chembur says, "Whether you live in a fancy duplex or a modest one room kitchen, both need to be taken care of. And if you are renting out your place, then you need to be extra careful about the condition of the house as there will be people living in your house and in a way they become your responsibility. There is simply no point doing the repairs once the time has come to demolish."

What is Structural Audit?
Structural audit is an important technique to understand the condition of any existing building or structure. The audit report will highlight all the critical areas which needs immediate attention. Based on these reports, the society is obligated to carry out the repair works and make sure that everything mentioned in the audit report is followed properly. As per the by-laws of municipal corporation, Structural Audit of buildings not more than 10-15 years should be undertaken every five years while buildings more than 30 years old should do a structural audit every three years. And accordingly, as per the recommendations given by the structural engineer, repair works should be carried out for the given building or premise.

Need for Structural Audit
"Structural Audit is a very much required process. There is no substitute for it. Also, there has to be certain accountability from the residents side too. The building won't take care of itself. Unless the owners take out money for the repairs, the building will go on weakening itself", explains Advocate Vinod Sampat. In a city like Mumbai, where majority of the buildings are at least more than 25 years old, having stringent regulations with regards to structural auditing is very important.

Maharashtra Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis, while addressing both the houses of Maharashtra legislature announced that the government would develop a digital database that would be made compulsory for buildings older than 30 years to get the structural audit done at regular intervals. Procedures for building construction too would be made online. A new system that would encompass all old and dilapidated buildings and also fix responsibilities of various civic officials will be developed. He also assured the legislature that necessary changes would be made in respective legislation very soon.

Making the audit mandatory will bring about a necessary awareness in the society. “People should realise that this is our liability and we must take steps to overcome them. A major setback for this is the mindset of the people. They will spend bucket loads of money on their home interiors but will not take care of the structural repairs. Many a times they will resort to temporary fix which is not at all the solution. As and when the mindset changes and people realise that the structure of the place where they live should be their top most priority things will change. and it will change for the better,” cites Sudhakar Dokhane, Architect and former President of practicing engineers architects and town planners association (PEATA).

The fact of the matter is that the collapse of a building in the nearby areas shouldn’t be the reason for the people to get involved and get serious about the structural audit. The process is there so as to help strengthen the life span of the structure and thus help avoid disruption of lives due to collapse or any other reason. Co-operative societies should take charge and get more and more residents involved and aware about the process. Yes, getting the audit done will mean acting on the recommendations and in turn spending money on the repairs. But spending money on repairs is much safer than what could be a sad and stressful alternative.

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